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Managing Labor & Cultural Diversity In Today'S Global Economy.

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1. Introduction

2. Defining Globalization, Culture and Diversity

3. Overview of multicultures from global perspectives

4. Managing cultural differences in workplace

5. Conclusion

6. Bibliography


Nowadays, businesses, people, governments and nations of the world have extended their tentacles beyond their geographical and cultural origins in the search for their daily needs, and the world has been turned into one global circle, hence the terms globalization and the global economy. One of the challenges facing multinational enterprises and their managers is the need to create conducive work environments that address the needs and respond to opportunities of culturally diverse workforce and to manage to satisfy diverse demands and culturally different tastes. Managing diversity is primarily a response to demographic changes including the increasing presence of women, racial minorities and immigrants in the workplace and in the client and customer populations (Towers Perrin and The Hudson Institute, 1990). Effective leadership must move beyond its own cultural frame of reference to promote strong intercultural communication and create and develop culturally designed different products that are of international standard. In the process, mangers are burdened with the responsibility of managing people of different origins and backgrounds with different work habit, cultural attitudes and diverse tastes.

Defining Globalisation, Culture and Diversity:

Globalization is defined as a "process of growing interdependence among countries" (Daniels, Radebaugh & Sullivan, 2007). Recently, there has been a remarkable growth in the business relationship and interdependence especially with reference to the need for factors of production and finished goods and services among countries. No single country in the world can adequately provide all the needs for its citizenry, but nations rely on one another to get most of their needs satisfied. Thus trading among countries (international business) gives birth to globalization. International business refers to all commercial transactions (buying and selling) between two or more countries. Civilization and technology have greatly expanded peoples' horizons in terms of what they need and want. Hence, they have established contacts over a wider geographic area; they have expanded the variety of resources, products, services and markets available. In the sphere of the development of different products, the industrial design has come face to face with the challenges of the globalization process. Far from the US domination of the 1950s, today's business environment is marked by world markets, no single country dominance in a number of key industries, complexity, and rapid change. (Wartick & Wood, 1998).

One can reasonable ask 'how do people get in this process of globalization? Many factors in international business have actually contributed in one way or the other to drift the whole world into a circle of conference of international interaction of activities. In the quest to satisfy human wants in terms of variety, quality and cheaper prices, people started engaging in the art of looking beyond their shores. Among those factors that have created enabling environment for good business interactions are advent and new innovations in high technology especially the world wide web (www and the internet), trade treaties and reduction in trade barriers across international borders, growing consumer desires, emergence and development of services that support international trade and favorable changing political situations to mention a few.

As one of many interventions in the organizational development methodologies, managing cultural diversity is primarily concerned with improving interpersonal and inter-group communication and relationships in the workplace. The focus is on interactions between managers and the employees they supervise, among peers, and between employees and customers or clients. Improved human relations are expected to result from promoting an increased understanding and acceptance, at best, appreciation, of those who are different from the traditional local able-bodied employees or managers. Expected benefits of diversity programmes include decreased conflict and stress, enhanced productivity of heterogeneous teams or work groups, and improvements in morale, job satisfaction and retention. Managing diversity seeks these objectives primarily through a program that promotes awareness of difference, empathy for those who are "different", and attitude change - often involving efforts to assist employees to identify and confront their stereotypes about persons whose characteristics differ from their own. As is true of other human relations approaches, managing cultural diversity is concerned with changing the attitudes of individuals and perhaps to some degree with attempting to persuade individual employees to change their behavior, but it does not generally seek to ensure behavioral change by altering organizational structures or processes.

Maintaining cultural diversity has become a global issue. Besides being a major issue in managing multinational companies, it now appears to have been recognized by several governments in relation to wide-ranging economic and trade liberalization, particularly with the launch of the WTO's Millennium Round in Seattle in late 1999. In this context, the issue has replaced the concept of cultural exception, which was overly reductive and protectionist. "Securing a better future for all will without a doubt require sacrifices and a fundamental examination of attitudes (including cultural attitudes) and behaviours and even of the most basic beliefs about the individual's essential relationships with society and the physical environment. [non-official translation]." (Our Creative Diversity, Report of the World Commission on Culture and Development).

That is not the only aspect of the issue, though. Cultural diversity also encompasses intercultural dialogue, the relationships among and the coexistence in a single country of individuals and social groups that do not share the same culture. Recent events in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Nigeria to name but the most striking examples demonstrate that this



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